The special lady and I are both big fans of postsecret, and this one caught my eye today. It made me cheer a little inside.
Even before I finally admitted that I no longer believe in God, the “God’s Plan” response always seemed like a monumental cop-out to me. It only really works from a Calvinist perspective, and even then, it acts only as a deterrent from criticism.
The idea (and I know this from 23 years as a practicing Christian) is that whenever something in the real world seems incompatible with the concept of an all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful patriarchal god, it’s explained away by reasoning that it must somehow be a part of God’s plan, which is (conveniently) far too complex to be understood by our petty mortal minds.
Cancer? God’s plan. Tsunamis? God’s plan. Famine? God’s perfect, divine, super-awesome and totally-not-flawed-in-any-way plan.
“God’s plan” is a non-answer. It’s nothing but a way of dodging the question, or refusing to accept the fact that your underlying assumption (i.e. there is a God) makes no sense.
There’s no good reason any particular action of God’s shouldn’t make some kind of sense. Even the Bible gives reasons for God’s actions (shitty ones, but reasons nonetheless). There’s no good reason why a god would create a race of humans with the ability to make rational decisions, and then demand that they not employ this ability. I don’t care who you are… if you’ve ever watched a family member suffer through cancer, you can’t help but wonder what divine purpose it could possibly serve.
To teach the family patience? If that’s true, then God is an asshole. To get them to depend on him? Then he’s a narcissistic asshole. To achieve some greater purpose? Then he’s a cruel, manipulative asshole.
What “greater purpose” could possibly be achieved from having thousands upon thousands of grieving parents watch as a cell mutation takes away their child’s life?
It is, of course, theoretically possible that there is no other course of action that could be taken by God to achieve this end. But then you also need to accept the theoretical possibility that there would be a way to get a particular desired outcome without using needless suffering.
Or, perhaps we all need to accept the reality that there is no greater purpose for anything. No plan. No divine, transcendent order to anything that happens.
This explanation is entirely consistent with the way the universe actually works. Apart from that, it’s simple. It has a near-universal explanatory scope. And it’s consistent.
Everything makes sense if one assumes that there is no God.
And trying to reconcile random terrible occurrences with a divine plan not only shows us what kind of an unimaginatively cruel god you serve, but also paints you as God’s abused housewife who makes excuses for him to justify his behavior.
So cut it out.